Islamic State


Don't cut Jihadi bludgers' dole
An exegesis on unintended consequences

This month Tony Abbott squibbed the greatest moral challenge of his age and shelved plans to amend the Racial Discrimination Act.

That was tough on George Brandis, who had drafted a gem of law prohibiting racial vilification only where the victim felt threatened with physical violence. The proposed law would have sent an important message: in Australia if someone is brandishing a weapon at you while spewing racist abuse, you have the right to demand that person put that weapon down.

Abbott’s “captain’s call” was necessary to confront a new threat: the 150 Australians who have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Our captain needs everyone (the Muslims) to join Team Australia (everyone else, except the ABC). To join Team Australia all you have to do is: obey the law, fly the flag, and offer unqualified support for expansive national security legislation that curtails civil liberties. We’ll drop our right to be bigots, if you stop insisting on yours to be presumed innocent.

While I applaud Abbott’s enthusiasm I’m worried his plan to cancel Centrelink payments for persons found to be supporters of ISIS is not quite fully formed. Let me be clear. I’m no fan of Jihadist bludgers, the most maligned of the bludger family. I’m worried that cutting welfare for ISIS recruits will have unintended consequences.

As Kevin Andrews has sagely observed, unconditional welfare breeds laziness and idleness. It subdues ambition and encourages inertia. If anybody should receive money to do nothing it’s young men with a desire to commit barbaric acts.

To join ISIS you need: a plane ticket; to make contact with intermediaries on the ground; and the willingness to undergo significant training. Do we want a young man considering this morbid choice to be weighing it against abject poverty in Australia? Or do we want him sitting on his parents’ couch fighting American forces on his X-Box in air-conditioned comfort?

The Coalition justifies its policy of denying people under 30 the dole for six months on the basis that it will encourage them to find work, educate themselves, and stay engaged. Presume the government is right. All across Australia potential terrorists will leave the comfort of home, find work and the benefits of self-esteem, energy, and disposable income. Team Australia does not need a generation of CUIBs (Cashed-up-ISIS-Bogans) dedicating their newfound confidence and resources to global terror.

No, these are not men who should receive the benefit of the Coalition’s enlightened social policy. Instead ASIO should be identifying security risks and ordering Centrelink to do three things: (1) increase their benefit; (2) on random occasions reduce their payment without any explanation; and (3) when they complain forward them onerous paperwork to complete (the existing forms should be just fine for this purpose). The mixture of lavish welfare payments and endless bureaucracy will be enough to neutralise the threat.

Read on

Image from ‘The Report’

Interrogating the interrogators: ‘The Report’

This tale of the investigation into CIA torture during the War on Terror places too much faith in government procedure

Image of police station in Alice Springs with red handprints on wall

What really happened at Yuendumu?

The promised inquiries must answer the biggest questions raised by the police shooting of an Aboriginal man

You could drive a person crazy: Noah Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story’

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are at their career best in this bittersweet tale of divorce

Blockade tactics

Inside the 2019 IMARC protests